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FAQs on Callichthyid Catfish Disease/Health 2

Related Articles: Callichthyid CatfishesSummer loving: cats in the garden, kittens in the kitchen by Neale Monks,

Related Catfish FAQs:  Callichthyid Cat Disease 1, Callichthyid Cat Disease 3, Callichthyid Cat Disease 4, Callichthyid Cat Disease 5Callichthyids 1, Callichthyids 2, Callichthyid Identification, Callichthyid Behavior, Callichthyid Compatibility, Callichthyid Selection, Callichthyid Systems, Callichthyid Feeding, Callichthyid Reproduction, Catfish: Identification, Behavior, Compatibility, Selection, Systems, Feeding, Disease, Reproduction

Possible sick Cory cat- frayed fins   11/14/07 Hello, <Hello,> I have tried searching on the form and internet but a little stumped as to what it could be or whether the symptoms are early signs or even symptoms at all. Five days ago I got 2 small (0.5 inch) panda Corys into my new tank. <Glad you're buying your fish a few at a time for your new tank, but Corydoras should always be kept in groups. Ideally at least 5 specimens. They are shy, schooling animals and in too-small a group will never be happy. So plan on getting three more later on; trust me, once you see your *school* of catfish scooting about the tank and happily playing in the water current, you'll understand why this is critical.> The tank was setup about 3 weeks ago seeded with aquarium gravel from an established tank and fed with fish food over several days to get the cycle going. <A good plan, though gravel doesn't have as big an effect as taking media from the filter, my own preferred way to "jump start" a new tank.> Did a 30% water change before putting the pandas in. I originally bought 3 but 1 one them died the next day, it had internal hemorrhaging in its belly when I found it dead. <Ah, not good. Internal bleeding rarely happens for no reason. I suspect that rather than internal bleeding (which would be invisible to the naked eye unless you dissected the fish) what you are seeing is a secondary bacterial infection that caused the skin on the belly to become inflamed. In which case, water quality was almost certainly the issue.> The other 2 Corys looked ok until this weekend, 1 of them started showing a frayed top fin with white edges. He seems paler all over as well. The back fin has 2 white streaks on it with 2 small red spots on the edges of the fin (sorry no pic). <Sounds a lot like Finrot. The white streaks are dead skin, and the red spots are sites of inflammation.> He is active and eating a little but not as active and eating as when I first got him. Water is: ammonia 0 nitrite 0 nitrate 10 ph 7.6 Temp 78 F <A bit too warm. These catfish come from waters close to the Andes and generally experienced fairly cool conditions. Between 20 and 25 C has to be considered the ideal. Anything above that places heat stress on them, which in the long term does them no good and shortens their lifespan. When selecting tankmates, be sure and choose other species, such as Danios, that inhabit similar conditions rather than, say, Cardinal tetras, which need warmer water.> I know the ph is high for them but I read that they can adapt. <The pH is largely irrelevant, providing it is stable. Corydoras are fine across pH 6.0 to 8.0. What they don't like is variations in pH.> They were at the LFS for one week in their tank water so I figure they would be ok. The water is super hard here as well. <Shouldn't cause any problems either. While Corydoras panda naturally inhabits slightly soft and acidic water in the wild, like most Corydoras it will adapt fine to hard, alkaline water.> The white lines are not defined spots, so I ruled out Ich, and the white frayed fin does not look cottony, so not sure if its fungus or what. The edges are all rough though, like the fin is blunted, its not sharply defined anymore and it has gotten worse since the weekend. <Finrot. Almost certainly caused by poor water quality, either at the retailer or in your tank. In either case, treat with commercial Finrot remedy at once.> My other panda seems fine with clearly defined fins and color. I have a feeling though the affected panda is sick since not as active. what is going on since my water parameters seem ok and will it get worse? <Corydoras panda is thank you very much for your help sincerely, Terri <Hope this helps, Neale>
Re: possible sick Cory cat- frayed fins -11/14/07
Hi Neale <Hello Terri-Ann.> Thanks so much for your wisdom. Now I feel horrible because I spent so much time doing research and I thought it would be ok to get panda Corys! Well m a little confused about what you said in regards to my Temp at 78 F: >>>A bit too warm. These catfish come from waters close to the Andes and generally experienced fairly cool conditions. Between 20 and 25 C has to be considered the ideal. Anything above that places heat stress on them, which in the long term does them no good and shortens their lifespan. << As 78 F is 25.5 C is this not ok for them? Its only 0.5 degrees outside their ideal range? <You might be fine, especially if you make sure there is good water circulation in the tank and add aeration in summer if the water gets substantially hotter than this. One of the big problems with Corydoras that isn't understood is many, many species are either subtropical or low-end tropical fish. Relatively few (if any) come from the piping-hot water conditions favoured by Discus, Rams, Gouramis, etc. On the plus side, Corydoras are air-breathers, and can adapt to what is (to them) overheated water conditions. Still, it's one more factor that can stress them if conditions aren't perfect to start with.> I feel terrible because I'm thinking I should have gotten a different Cory, one from warmer waters. The reason I would like to keep them at this T is because I plan on adding 1 Betta and 4-5 Rasbora or tetra species. My big planted tank at home (29 gallon) hasn't been setup yet but was planning to put warmer south American species (Apistos, Neons, bronze Corys and Otos) in there as well, so my pandas cant be moved there either. what should I do? <Funnily enough, neither Neons nor Bronze Corydoras like warm water: both come from low-end tropical conditions. Neons come from waters at 20-25C (68-78F), while Cardinals want water in the 24-28C (75-82F) temperature range. So while we often think of them as interchangeable species, they actually come from completely different thermal regimes. Keeping Neons too warm is one reason many people have trouble keeping them alive (and conversely, keeping Cardinals too cold makes them sensitive to disease). Bronze Corydoras come from the subtropical parts of South America. While fine at 25C (78F) they aren't a viable choice for the 28-30C (82-86F) range favoured by some Apistogramma as well as Rams, Discus, etc. Temperature is a much bigger problem than many aquarists realise, and before putting fish together you do need to establish whether their thermal tolerances overlap.> >>>;Glad you're buying your fish a few at a time for your new tank, but Corydoras should always be kept in groups. Ideally at least 5 specimens. They are shy, schooling animals and in too-small a group will never be happy. So plan on getting three more later on; trust me, once you see your *school* of catfish scooting about the tank and happily playing in the water current, you'll understand why this is critical.><<<< I know that they should be kept in groups, so thought 3 as a minimum would be ok (will be getting them another panda friend in a month). Is this ok? I believe I have a very overstocked 10 gallon tank even with a future planned 3 Corys 1 Betta 5 Rasbora <Well, I'd skip the Betta to be honest. If nothing else, it might get nipped by the Rasboras. But if you want a Betta, then go for it. All these should be fine at 25C (78F). Bettas are more sensitive to cold air than cold water. So make sure you have warm, humid air over the tank (i.e., use a lid or hood of some sort). Three Corydoras is certainly possible, but they'll never be as much fun as in groups. I'm watching my school of seven Peppered Corydoras (four parents and three of their offspring from last year). Watching them chase each other, rub whiskers, and, for the last few days, lay eggs all over the tank is part of the fun of keeping them. And trust me, until you've bred Corydoras, you haven't kept fish! Their "kittens" are sickeningly cute.> what do you think? I don't think I can put more Corys in there! <Agreed. Go for 3 now, and when you get a 20 gallon tank, add three more.> Now about the Finrot issue: Yesterday I did a 40% water change treated with dechlorinator. The affected fish also seems a little bloated. What is going on??? How can this be an issue of water quality since I checked all my parameters before I put fish in and even now the water parameters seem ok???? <Not sure. Do check the ammonia or nitrite level 30-60 minutes after feeding. Sometimes these go up after meals: the problem isn't that the filter doesn't work, but that it is overwhelmed. In any case, provide water quality and chemistry are good, and you do water changes on a regular basis, then treat the Finrot and see how things go.> 1) I just bought both Jungle Fungus Eliminator and Mardel Trisulfa, which one do I use? The Jungle med has sodium chloride in it, is this safe for Corys? <Corydoras aren't wild about salt. They'll put up with it at low doses, but they don't need it. These medications certainly are appropriate (though I have no personal experience of them).> 2) do I isolate him into QT tank? Will this stress him more than if I leave him in the 10 gal and treat the whole thing? I'm worried that the 10 gallon is new and don't want to mess with the bacteria, also I don't want to move the Cory again, he was just transported from the LFS 5 days ago and they need to be with other fish. <Leave him be. Treat the tank. Be sure and remove carbon from the filter. Lots of people make this mistake, but carbon REMOVES MEDICATION!> 3) Do I even medicate at all? Or just do 30% daily water changes? I'm just worried since I read at how rapid fin rot can attack the whole fish. <Treat for Finrot, do water changes when course of medication finished (usually you have to leave the medicine a few days to work).> Hopefully you can get back to me ASAP as I will wait for your advice before I treat... thank you very much for your time, take care.. cheers Terri <Hope this helps, Neale>
Re: possible sick Cory cat- frayed fins -11/14/07
Hi Neale thanks for your quick response! I did as you suggested and treated the tank right away with Jungles Fungus eliminator. Now I have checked both the Jungle website, the internet and the instructions and cant find a clear answer. Will this type of med kill my good bacteria in my filter? If not is it just antibiotics that kill the good bacteria? What other meds for sure kills good bacteria? <No, these won't harm the filter bacteria. Assuming you use aquarium medications in the way you are instructed, they're completely safe.> Can I feed my Corys will they are medicated? <Yes, but you might want to make 100% sure you aren't overfeeding, and certainly don't give them more than one meal per day.> The tank looks like a yellow stained mess, so I'm not sure about feeding regime and adding food when they are being treated. <The colour from the medications tend to dissipate quickly. They don't do any long term harm, and the fish don't care.> Also on the side, I am feeding the 2 little guys half a shrimp pellet every 1-2 days, but it takes them forever to eat it. Usually by overnight its gone. Should I be letting the food pellet sit for only 10 minutes and then take it away from the Corys? <The golden rule is feed nothing that isn't gone after 10 minutes. I'd stick with that. Use softer foods or foods in mouthfuls they can swallow easily. Wet flake works fine with Corydoras, and there are plenty of catfish-specific foods. I'm not wild about dried shrimps and other dried animals as staple food items. They don't have terribly high levels of nutrition, and seem to cause constipation in fish given them too often. Use as a treat, maybe once a week.> They seem to like to come back to it and nibble on it all day long. <Indeed. If you must give them "nibbly" food, opt for something vegetable based, as this is unlikely to cause water quality problems (less protein). Sushi Nori or sliced cucumber would be ideal. Corydoras eat a lot of plant material and algae in the wild, something we overlook in aquaria at out peril.> Thanks so much Neale, you're awesome! <Aw, shucks!> cheers Terri <Cheers, Neale.>

Albino Cory and fin rot 10/18/07 Hi Bob-- <Well, it's Neale right now; hope that'll do.> I hope you are doing great. As always, let me please start with thanking you for the WWM web site and opportunity to share my concerns / problems / questions with other aquarists. <Cheers!> I do have a question about and a problem with fin rot in Albino Cory. <Ah, Finrot... almost always an issue with water quality. If it ever gets caused by other stuff, that's news to me. So, always review water quality while treating Finrot.> Few months ago my little Albino got that disease. In the aftermath of that fin rot my Albino lost its dorsal and pectoral fins... ;--( I acknowledge I was afraid to medicate the fish assuming that changing water will be much more beneficial than dropping medication... Perhaps, I was wrong. <Indeed you were wrong. It's a 2-step process. Water changes are essential to maintaining good water quality. No question. 50% weekly is my recommendation. BUT, while using a medication, you can't do water changes. Water changes would (obviously) dilute the medication, reducing its efficacy. This is also why you remove carbon from the filter (if you're using it, and you shouldn't be in my opinion). Carbon removes medication, reducing its efficacy as well. Regardless, it's not an "either/or" situation -- you do water changes to prevent problems, and use medications (stopping water changes) when problems arise. When the medication course is finished, resume water changes.> On a regular basis, every Wednesday and Saturday, I change 30% of my 25-gallon tank water... The pH range reads between 6.8 and 7.0. The water temperature is ca. 76 F. The ammonia level is 0. <All sounds reasonable. I personally find Nitrite more informative than Ammonia though; ammonia can come from inorganic sources (e.g., tap water) and its absence tells you nothing about the Nitrifying bacteria that turn Nitrite into Nitrate.> I keep lots of plants (Cabomba & banana) and make sure the water circulation is quite fast (I have one Emperor filter + one small Hagen filter for 10-gallon tank and 2 oxygen stones). <10 gallons a little on the small side for Corydoras paleatus (which is likely what you have).> I am not sure what I am doing wrong, but there must be something I do not get right... I noticed that my Albino started loosing its caudal fins (I observed the fin became quite ragged and 1/2 "eaten"). <How often do you clean the substrate? It's often said that dirty substrates can promote secondary infections on benthic fish. No idea if this is true or not, but stirring the gravel every few weeks before doing a water change can't do any harm, so long as you don't uproot the plants.> At this point I have to acknowledge that I am clueless ;--( and desperately looking for help, before the entire caudal disappears. <I see.> Do you think that I should place Albino in a hospital tank and treat it for the fin rot? <No, Corys like to be in groups, and keeping them alone will stress the fish in question. Besides, you may as well treat the tank.> If so, what is the best medication (least harmful) I could offer to that little fish. <Corys are fairly tolerant of medications compared with more sensitive catfish. So any combination Finrot/Fungus medication will work here. Ideally, get something safe with sensitive fish and/or invertebrates, but it really doesn't matter too much. I happen to find eSHa 2000 very good with sensitive fish, but as far as I know it's only sold here in Europe. Mardel Maracyn is one alternative you might consider.> Sorry to "bother" you with my question... I hope you will be able to guide me toward the right answer. Thanks much in advance for your feedback. Anna <Hope this helps, Neale>
Re: Albino Cory and fin rot 10/18/07
Thanks much, Neale. I will try the medication on my display tank... Though, I am bit worried about my plants ;--( and beneficial bacterias if I do the process in the main tank. <Used properly, modern medications won't harm filter or plants. Just read the instructions carefully, and follow them to the letter.> I forgot to mention that I do clean gravel 2 x a week -- along with water changes (first gravel, than water). I noticed that my pH changes with - or + 0.2 value. That looks like a lot. <Hmm... that's not a dangerous change in itself, but it's the rate of change that matters more. Is this across one week, or six weeks, or what? If on a weekly basis, I'd be slightly concerned, but if over six weeks or more, I wouldn't be too bothered. All aquaria become acidic over time. Water changes reverse the pH drop, and increasing carbonate hardness (KH) slows the pH drop down. For a standard aquarium, a hardness of 5-10 degrees KH should keep the water chemistry stable between water changes. 50% water changes weekly should reverse any pH drops before they become serious.> Maybe I feed the fish too much ;--( <Always a possibility. Review the articles on feeding fish here at WWM or in your aquarium book. As a rule, one or two pinches of food per day are fine, and each pinch should be so small that all the food is eaten in 2 minutes. Catfish should be given their own portion of food, preferably at night. For a small school of Corydoras, a small pinch of sinking pellets or a single Pleco algae wafer per night will be fine.> Perhaps, this may be a reason why my Albino got sick ;--( <Overfeeding compromises water quality; poor water quality causes fish to get sick.> Anyway, I will try Maracyn. Hopefully it will help. <Yes I hope so too; good luck!> Again, thanks much for your help. I greatly appreciate your insights. Greetings from NYC, Anna <Cheers, Neale>
Re: Albino Cory and fin rot  10/20/07
Thanks much, Neale. I got the answer -- I feed my fish too much ;--( The pH changes occur within a week! The cycle becomes apparent -- too much food increases acidity. Water changes drop that factor, which increases again over the course of a week due too increased amount of food in the gravel. I am going to read more about proper feeding. Thanks much for your help. ;--) ANNA <Ah, yes, overfeeding can cause acidification. But also check other factors. Bogwood is a notorious acidifier of aquaria, especially if it hasn't been "cured" properly before use. Anyway, do try halving the amount of food you use, and see how that changes the pH. You might consider adding a chemical buffer to the system to prevent pH changes. Small amounts of crushed coral or crushed oyster shell places in the filter will do the trick nicely. As these dissolve, they raise the carbonate hardness (measured in degrees KH). For a standard community aquarium, you want a KH around 5-10 degrees. In a small aquarium, half a cup of crushed coral should do the trick, perhaps even less. You don't need masses, since you're not after a hard water aquarium like you'd use for a Tanganyikan cichlid tank. But a little extra carbonate hardness, just enough to inhibit rapid pH changes, would be a cheap and effective "insurance policy". Cheers, Neale.>
Re: Albino Cory and fin rot 10/21/07
Neale -- T H A N K Y O U so very much!!! ANNA -- I will follow your instruction. <Cool. Good luck, and enjoy your fish. Cheers, Neale>

Mysterious Sterbai Corydoras Death   09/29/07 Hi, <<Good morning, Katie. Tom here.>> I currently have a 10 gallon aquarium housing 4 rosy barbs, four Sterbai Corydoras, and one Panda Corydoras. Tonight when I came home, one of my four Sterba's had sadly passed away. <<Sorry to hear this.>> None of my fish are showing any signs of sickness and the Cory was alive and well this morning when I went to work. <<Certainly nothing that we like to see, Katie, but, with Corys, this isnt particularly uncommon. Their diminutive sizes along with their normal behavior, i.e. lounging on the bottom of the tank, hiding out under plants/decorations, frequently makes it difficult to spot trouble.>> I have had the tank running for a year and all of the fish are the original inhabitants of the tank (cycled before they moved in), except the Panda Cory which I moved into the tank about a month ago (from another tank in my house, which it had lived in for three months). I have no idea why the Cory died as he looked very healthy up to the point where he was, well, dead. Although none of my Cory's are extremely active like other people mention, they do their share of swimming around or lounging on the driftwood in the aquarium. The tank has about 3 watts per gallon of light, but the tank is planted and covered with so they can hang out away from direct light and the lights are on a twelve hour timer. The substrate is sand with a bit of Fluorite mixed in for the plants. I have noticed on all my Corydoras, the barbels are not entirely developed and shorter than the pictures of the Corydoras I find here. (Could this be because of the Fluorite chunks?) <<I consider the notion that Corys wear down their barbels on certain types of substrates a bit of an old-wives tale, Katie. Barbels, almost invariably, deteriorate due to bacterial infections (much like fin rot), not by being worn away on sharp edges of materials. (How long would you walk, haphazardly, on sharp stones in your bare feet before the light bulb went on? Not long, Im guessing!)>> I am giving you the stats below with the hope that you can help me explain and prevent further Cory loss. Any info you can give would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Katie Measurements taken when I spotted the dead Cory: Ammonia: 0 Nitrites: 0 Nitrates: 20 ppm <<A little high here given a planted tank. No cause for alarm, obviously, just a bit surprising to me.>> ph: 8 Temperature: 78 degrees Diet: dry flakes at 12 hour intervals (from fish feeder), sinking shrimp pellets, frozen brine shrimp, frozen blood worms (once weekly) <<All looks/sounds pretty good, Katie. One thing that we havent touched on is water changes. These are largely responsible for keeping the nitrates in check and, digressing back to your nitrate levels, Im wondering if these arent a symptom of a problem. Sand, in particular, can trap tiny particles of food and detritus, leading to the buildup of pockets of gas (hydrogen sulfite) which is produced by the bacteria feeding on the trapped solids. This isnt such a problem, if at all, in tanks containing certain varieties of fish such as Cichlids, as a common example, because they sift through the substrate routinely and allow the gas to be vented before it becomes problematic. Your Corys only superficially scavenge at the bottom, however, so they wont be of much help in disturbing the sand enough to avoid this potential issue. Since I keep a fairly large number of Corys of different varieties myself, I can speak to the concern that a lot of hobbyists may have about vacuuming the little rascals up in a syphon tube during water changes. Mine think its grand fun to dash around the tube looking for goodies that they couldnt reach themselves until I've stirred things up. (They dont listen very well, either!) The upshot here is that between the plants/roots and nosy little fish, you may not be getting the substrate cleaned up as well as it could be. This, in turn, may be creating a less-than-healthy environment for your Corys. (A rather lengthy ramble over something that Id have passed off as just one of those things if you hadnt mentioned the shortness of the barbels on the other Corys.) Honestly, I cant tell you that this had anything to do with the death of your Sterbai but I think its something well-worth addressing where your concerns are involved. Hope this helps. Good luck to you. Tom>>

My poor catfish!! Corydoras dis., use     8/22/07 Good morning, we are fairly new aquarium owners, we have 2 gravel cleaner Corydoras and one of them has a very swollen belly, we thought it might be pregnant but today it is finding it very difficult to swim and keeps going to the surface. Sometimes it falls back down to the bottom like its dead but then will swim back up. Not keeping it's balance very well. The other one looks fine and is sat on the bottom as normal. Please could you give me some advice on what to do. I can't seem to get a clear enough picture but will try if you really need one. They are a grey colour with a pinkish tone, about 2 inches long. Thank you so much Sharon <Hello Sharon. Corydoras aren't "gravel cleaners" -- that's your job. Indeed, forcing catfish of any kind to root about dirty gravel causes infections to set in, typically associated with eroded barbels (whiskers) and, in serious cases, reddish sores on the belly. A photograph will help, but my assumption without one is that your catfish are suffering from poor water quality. In a new aquarium the ammonia and nitrite levels quickly reach toxic levels. Catfish will try and mitigate the problems by gulping air, which is the dash to the surface your catfish are doing, but eventually the ammonia and nitrite cause damage to the fish, which is the odd behaviour. Even in the short term, prolonged exposure to nitrite and ammonia will kill them. Using your test kits (which I hope you have!) ensure the ammonia is 0 and the nitrite is 0. If this is not the case, do a 50% water change. Repeat the water test and, if required, 50% water change every single day until you get 0 ammonia and nitrite for two or three days on the trot. At that point, you can scale things back to 50% water changes per week. Cheers, Neale>
Re: my poor catfish!!   8/22/07
Thanks for the reply, the poorly one has got a red sore on his belly. The other one is fine, sorry about the gravel cleaner thing, that's what we were told at the shop we bought them in and we certainly don't force them to feed from the bottom and we clean the gravel with a suction thing (haven't quite got the hang of that task properly yet!!) Can't get a decent photo as he is laying on his back at the back of the tank but is still moving. Water test levels are as follows ammonia and nitrite are at 0ppm ph levels are slightly high at 7.4 and nitrate is in between 0 and 5 ppm. Tank is about 3 months old now and we have a variety of fish including mollies, tetras, a Betta, Plecos, silver shark, clown loaches and one of our guppies has just given birth to 18 fry ( which are in a nursery tank) all other fish are fine we have only lost two Tetras (one zebra tailed and one gold) since we started. Thanks Sharon <Water chemistry/quality sounds fine. pH 7.4 is perfect for Corydoras. Your selection of fish is a bit random though, and likely to cause problems in the long term. I personally don't like keeping Corydoras in tanks with gravel; they are much happier in tanks with sand. But clean gravel shouldn't cause Corydoras to die. Do check the water quality once or twice more today. Ammonia and nitrite can "spike" after feeding, while dropping down to zero a few hours later. Also check the other fish for signs of problems. If they're all healthy, I'd be tempted to just sit back for a month and not add anything new to the aquarium. Leave things be. Only afterwards, once you're happy the sick Corydoras was "just one of those things" consider adding more fish. Cheers, Neale>
Re: my poor catfish!!   8/22/07
Hi again, I think the poor little thing has finally given up the ghost and has passed away, I have read these are social fish so should I go and get another partner in case the one left gets lonely!! Any other advice would be greatly received. Thanks again for all you help so far Sharon <Corydoras do indeed need to be kept in groups, but I personally wouldn't add anything else to your tank for another month. Let things stabilise, and get a sense of how the tank is working out (or not, as the case may be). Ultimately, keep at least four Corydoras, preferably six. Ideally all one species, but they do often mix quite well, so you could get three of one kind and three of another. Cheers, Neale>
Re: my poor catfish!!   8/23/07
Hi Neale, thanks so much for all your advice, to be honest we just went for the fish we thought nice to look at, obviously we checked if they were suitable to be in the same aquarium as each other. If you've got time could you possibly tell me where we might be going wrong with the choice of fish. We have got fine gravel in our tank, would it make the bottom feeders happier if we bought a bag of sand and put that over the top or should we replace the gravel completely? As I said we are fairly new to this and are going on advice from shops and other people really. Oh by the way the Corydoras that I have left and the clown loaches still forage in the gravel is this normal if not how could I possibly stop them from doing so? Thanks again Sharon <Hello Sharon. I just went over your stock-list... mollies, tetras, a Betta, Plecos, silver shark, clown loaches and guppies. Right? OK, here's the low-down. Mollies and guppies need hard, alkaline water. Mollies 9 times out of 10 do better when the water also has a little marine salt mix added too. Tetras, on the other hand, almost always prefer soft and acid water. So right out the box you have fishes that need mutually exclusive water conditions. Bettas aren't great community fish because of their long fins -- they can't swim well, and end up starving or being nipped. Plecs (plural!) are large (typically at least 30 cm long, often 45 cm) and territorial fish. When kept in confined spaces they can and do fight, to the point where the aggressor will literally scrape the skin from the weaker fish. Yes, they're skinned alive... nasty or what? Oddly, they form schools in the wild. But for whatever reason this doesn't happen in the average aquarium. Silver sharks are also big fish (30 cm or so). They aren't especially predatory, but they're not stupid either, and if a small tetra or guppy swims in front of a 30 cm silver shark, that tetra or guppy stands a good chance of becoming dinner. Clown loaches are sociable and big (30 cm). They're also extremely sensitive to medications used to treat things like Whitespot. What do I mean by "sensitive"? If you're unlucky, they die. This isn't to say that your aquarium is doomed to disaster, but these are some of the issues you're going to have to work around as time goes on. Now, as for the gravel. It's fine. If you have plants, the gravel needs to be about 10 cm deep. If you don't have plants, keep only enough gravel to cover the glass. Either way, clean the gravel regularly by siphoning across it with the hose pipe. Some folks like to use those "gravel vacuum cleaners" but I don't use them. I prefer to siphon the sand, stirring the top level with a stick if need be. Up to you. Sand is preferable, in my opinion, to gravel in tanks with loaches and catfish because these fish simply enjoy digging into it. But sand is definitely an "advanced" substrate because there are some possible problems to using it, so for now, feel free to stick with plain gravel. I hope this helps. Cheers, Neale>

Please can you advise ? Corydoras in trouble, no useful data   7/10/07 Dear Sir Please Could you take a look at my Albino cat fish and possible tell what could be her problem in order that I may help her or him? Thanks Keith Dean UK <This fish is either egg-bound, has a gut blockage... or some other internal complaint... W/o info. re the set-up, water quality tests, foods/feeding... et al. there is naught to do but guess as to cause here, and little to suggest re cure. I would (if the other life present can tolerate such) administer Epsom Salt... as proscribed on WWM... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/saltusefaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

and wrong net... Oof!

Mysterious Catfish Deaths (and brown algae) 07/03/07 Hi crew, <Hello.> This is my first time writing to you. I have been an avid reader of your pages for almost a year, and I have gathered much information. I have also kept fish for quite a long time, and I have never encountered these problems. <OK.> Firstly, aquarium stats: 29 G glass bowfront, about 6 months old. Inhabitants include 3 green Corys, 3 Oto, 1 medium angelfish, 4 various platies, 2 neon Rainbowfish. Moderately planted (a couple of swords, sparse java moss, a couple java ferns, some floating elodea), 24 W T-5 lighting, no CO2 or air pump, filter for 60 G (300GPH). Ammonium, Nitrites = 0, Nitrates = 10 ppm. Substrate = Eco Complete. 1 piece of driftwood. pH = 8.x? (it is really high, and the tests have not been very accurate). Water changes are 25 - 30% once a week (very regular), siphoning the unplanted areas and under the driftwood and replacing with treated tap. <The high pH is alarming. It may be an issue with your test kit. Test kits designed for the "low end" around pH 5.5-7.5 tend to be inaccurate at the "high end" around pH 7.5-9.0, and vice versa. So, check that. Second, what's the pH of the water straight out the tap? Your selection of fish wants a pH around 7.2-7.5, but what matters more than pH is hardness, so you want to check that as well. If you live in an area supplied with exceptionally hard water (such as water from a limestone aquifer) you can easily have a pH slightly above 8.0. Not ideal for things like tetras and angels, though they can adapt.> Issues: Corys with degenerating barbels/fins. The Corys (had 6 at first) were fine for the first few months. They grew from baby size into adult size and were super active. They also had nice fins and barbels. Then, java moss began growing everywhere, and their barbels started deteriorating. Then a couple died. I thought it might be the Java Moss collecting debris and making high local nitrates. But I cleared out almost all of it and the Corys still seem to be suffering from fin rot/barbel degeneration. I put in a new Cory from QT a few weeks ago and it's barbels seemed to be deteriorating! Then it died. Why is this? All the mid to top dwelling fish (including the angel) are active and eating very well, and have nice fins. Also, the Corys seem lethargic and hide under the driftwood all day, only coming out to get food. <Almost certainly the water quality at the bottom of the tank and especially in the substrate is suboptimal. The reason the new Corydoras died was it couldn't adapt to these conditions, whereas the old Corydoras have (to a degree) adapted. Anyway, check the water circulation. Many filters do a good job of moving water around the top of the aquarium but the water flow at the bottom can be relatively poor. If the Java Moss is accumulating silt, then that's a good clue that this might be the problem. Adjust the filter, or add an airstone or two at the bottom of the tank to improve water circulation.> Additionally, the Otos like to hang out near the top of the tank. If I recall, they used to like hanging out on the plants. But there seems to be something bothering them because they hang near the surface and don't eat much algae. This lead me to think there was something near the bottom that bothers them, but I can't identify it. I do siphon the unplanted areas of the bottom every time I do a water change. <Sounds as if there's a lack of oxygen at the lower levels, again suggesting poor water flow. Otocinclus are fishes of fast-flowing streams, and are exceptionally sensitive to static water.> Is the Eco Complete doing something strange to the fish? What could the culprit be? Usually fin rot is associated with nitrates but I tested the water at the bottom of the aquarium, and the nitrates were at 10 ppm! (same as the surface). <I can't imagine the Eco Complete is the immediate problem. Are you using under tank heating of any kind? When using deep, rich substrates, under tank heating is recommended. Basically you thread a heater cable through the substrate, and when this is warm, it sets up convection currents that slowly circulates the water. Works very well and the plants thrive, but it's a little more expensive to do than a regular heater.> Finally, a there is a large amount of brown algae infestation in my tank. It is covering all of my plants and the java moss too, making it a furry brown carpet. To the best of my knowledge, it doesn't seem like there should be a lot of algae. Is the lighting causing this? I don't have a CO2 system, and it is not convenient for me to install one, so I was wondering if there was any other way to combat this problem. I don't mind the algae on the glass, because I can scrape it off, but the algae on the plants is what's bothering me. <Brown algae -- diatoms -- are almost always a problem in [a] new aquaria and [b] tanks with insufficient light. If your tank is more than a few months old, then the problem is probably lack of light. Fish and snails have modest impact on brown algae though they do eat some. Much better to boost the lighting levels. For various reasons plants prevent algae from growing when they are doing well. So make sure you have at least 2 Watts per gallon of water, and that you are using the right type of light (i.e., a plant-friendly one rather than a generic aquarium light).> Thanks for your advice, Alex <Good luck, Neale>
Cory Problems cont'd  7/29/07
Hi Neale, <Alex,> Thank you for answering my question last time (a few weeks ago). To remind you, 36 G bowfront, 1 angelfish, 6 platies, 6 Corys, 2 Oto, 2 neon Rainbowfish, 0/0/10, moderately planted, Eco-Complete substrate. My problem was that Corys were dying and their barbels were degenerating, but I could not identify the reason as none of the other fish were suffering. You suggested that I place a bubble wand near the bottom of the tank so that there would be better circulation. I got a 14" bubble wand and set it up, and there seems to be a lot better circulation. The Cory's seemed more active and happier, so I moved a couple of Corys from the QT over to the main tank. <Circulation of the water is important. But also how deep is the tank? Corydoras are obligate air breathers, and they will literally drown in an aquarium too deep for them. For the smaller species, around 30 cm is about right. Anything over 45 cm is dodgy, in my opinion.> Well, 2 weeks later, they are again showing signs of barbel degeneration. <Time to clean and stir the substrate. When the barbels degenerate, that pretty much means they have something Finrot-like nibbling away at the tissue. Dirty gravel is the killer.> They also sometimes try to "hover" just a centimeter or so above the substrate. <Normal. Some Corydoras even swim in midwater.> So, I am thinking there is something nasty in the substrate, but how can I get rid of it? <Stir at each water change, and siphon out any detritus.> I already suction the exposed portions of the gravel with every water change. The catfish seem more active than before, but the barbel/slight fin degeneration looks bad to me. Is it the substrate? I really love these guys and don't want them to suffer anymore! <I'm not sure. I've never used Eco-Complete substrate so can't comment from experience. But if this was me, I'd be thinking about putting a gravel tidy on top of the Eco-Complete substrate and then adding a thin (1 cm or so) layer of fine gravel or dark lime-free sand. Corydoras love sand, and will burrow through it, keeping it spotlessly clean. You can also add some Malayan livebearing snails if you wanted, as these do a good earthworm type thing burrowing through the sand constantly. Plants can be stuck into the sand and their roots will go through the gravel tidy. If required, you can cut holes in the gravel tidy for plants that have robust root systems already. What this will do is isolate the Eco-Complete substrate from the catfish, allowing the plants to take advantage of the Eco-Complete substrate while the fish can play with the sand.> Also on a side note, my smallest platy (which is less than an inch long) seems to have suffered a couple of bites out of her tail. It doesn't really look like fin rot and she has no damage on her other fins. Do you think the angelfish took a couple snaps out of her? <Probably, yes. Angels are opportunistic predators and will attempt to eat small fish. Adult angels are able to eat things up to the size of a neon tetra.> Thanks, Alex <Good luck, Neale>

Wormlike parasite  5/30/07 Hello there, <Good morning> I have a problem with two Bronze Catfish, they seem to have a parasite that I can't identify. One of the Bronze Cats is new, I've had it for a few days. My tanks isn't very old (less than two months, but I have been monitoring it closely and it has cycled). It is a 90 litre tank (24 ish gallons). Currently my temp is 79, pH is 6.8 , ammonia 0, nitrites 0 (I only tested for nitrates once about three weeks ago and there were none, the tank is quite heavily planted so I'm guessing whatever nitrates have been produced are being used up or removed during water changes). I don't think that water quality is affecting the fish, but nevertheless the Bronze Cats seem to have extremely tiny, whitish, wormy looking things attached to the very ends of their fins, they are difficult to see with the naked eye. There don't seem to be any on their bodies, they just seem to be on the ends of the fins, hanging like little tassels that move when the fish are swimming. They are very small, they must be less than a mm long. There seem to be more on the newest Bronze Cat, but I believe that the other bronze has caught them now too because I noticed a few today ( I'm afraid that they are spreading). I have 2 Pepper Cats and two Sterbai Cats and they seem unaffected, none of the other fish in the tank seem affected either (Neons, Gouramis, SAE etc.). These parasites don't seem to be bothering the fish so far (no clamped fins, scratching or heavy breathing) but I know that this could change. These two Bronze Cats also seem to each have another problem as well ( I know this is getting boring but I think it's better to get all the details out in the open). My older Bronze Cat is a long finned variety, very pretty, but I think that someone likes the look of his magnificent dorsal fin because sometimes it suddenly looks munched or shredded. It heals readily and does not seem to get infected so I don't think that it's fin rot. I don't keep any 'aggressive' fish in my tank, but maybe a naughty baby Clown Loach might have nipped him? ( Who knows what any of the fish get up to when the lights are off?). The newer Bronze seems to have lost the barbels on one side of his mouth, it doesn't look infected. This seems to have happened quite suddenly as well ( it was while I was inspecting this that I noticed the parasites). I think that the barbel may have been damaged during feeding. I try to break up a few small sinking wafers for all my bottom feeders to have an even chance but I have still noticed that the Clown Loaches are pretty dominating at feeding time. My Betta also gets quite aggressive as well. Could the barbels have been severed during a feeding frenzy? I realise that the parasite and the injuries may be related because the fish may be more susceptible to infection if they're injured. But do you have any idea what the parasites are and how to treat them? <Mmm, microscopic examination would be the route to go here, but likely some type of Fluke (Trematode)> My other issue is with a new Blue Ram. I bought a male and a female (they get along well) and it is the female who is looking rough. She has got small white patches on her body and fins. They aren't Ich spots but they don't look cottony or fluffy either. Could they be a fungus infection that is just starting out? Or is it bacterial? <Impossible to state for sure... but the fish being new, I would be very conservative here re treatment> I don't know what to treat with. I have a malachite green/Methylene blue/quinine solution which is meant to be a sort of 'cure all' tonic, <The Malachite is quite toxic... I would hold off for now> but I am afraid to use it with the Clown Loaches being in the tank now, and I don't want to destroy my biological filtration either. Would the medicine that I have be suitable to treat the worm parasites and the fungus or would you recommend something else? Should I treat the whole tank? ( I don't have a QT but could do a short soak in a bucket?) Sorry this is so long but I would really appreciate any advice you could offer. Kind regards, Jessica in New Zealand <I would treat the worm problem with an Anthelminthic (likely Flubenol or Prazi(quantel)... covered on WWM (see the indices, search tool)... and the current problem with the Ram... not at all, other than maintaining good (soft, acidic, warm) water quality. Bob Fenner>
Re: wormlike parasite continued  5/31/07
Hi WWM, <Jessica> Thank you Bob for your reply regarding my unidentified 'worms'. Before receiving your reply I went to my LFS to buys some plants and asked them about the worms. The parasite description stumped the staff there but one of them eventually decided that I should try Praziquantel. He said it was what they used to treat parasites on their discus so we figured it was worth a go. <Yes> I bought some of the Praziquantel but I waited to hear what your suggestions would be (no offense to my LFS, just thought you guys would have had more experience with parasite ID's). Imagine how great it was to hear two different sources suggest the same treatment! I used the Praziquantel this morning (on the whole tank as I believe it was spreading to all my catfish) and it looks like the parasites have already come off the fish's fins. I can't see them anymore. So I'm guessing that the Praziquantel made the parasite fall off of their hosts? <Very possibly> I was given two doses and told to use the second one in a week's time, would you recommend this and should I do my usual weekly water change (about 15-20%) beforehand? <I do recommend both> I also wondered if I could use some MelaFix to help my Blue Ram? <Mmm... not really worthwhile> Whatever is ailing her seems to be getting worse, I'm still not sure if it's a bacteria or a fungus. <Likely water quality...> She just seems to have small, white clumps on her body and fins (they are different to the parasite that was on my catfish), some of them are looking a bit stringier (still not cottony/fluffy though) than they did before so maybe this is a fungus? <Do see Google re Lymphocystis... pix...> She's also looking a bit more 'clamped' than she was before, still feeding and reasonably active though. Her partner looks fantastic and they seem happy together, he is not beating her up and neither is anyone else. Maybe the male was a bit aggressive in the bag on the way home from the store (although it wasn't a long trip and I didn't see anything amiss), or maybe she was already sick at the store. The stock there all looked pretty good and my water chemistry seems suited to their requirements. I'm not sure what's making her sick, but I'm worried that she's getting worse and maybe the MelaFix would be a milder course of action (rather than the malachite/Methylene/quinine tonic that I have). <Neither one is suggested> I'm aware that the MelaFix may not have an effect on whatever is making her sick, but I just thought it would be worth a try if it was safe to mix with the Praziquantel. I've done a ton of research on both of these today, but I haven't seen anything saying whether you could mix them or not. At least now I know more about them on their own :-) <Can be mixed... but the "Fix" product is just a "tea"... soaked Melaleuca leaves... at best it might lower the pH here> A third and completely unrelated question is that I have two Honey Dwarf Gouramis (Trichogaster chuna), a male and a female. <Ahh! One of my favorite species> They seem to get along apart from the odd brief chase here and there, which I'm sure is natural. Today (before dosing the Praziquantel) I noticed that the male has darkened up considerably on his ventral area. It is a section that runs from under his mouth and eyes, just under his pectoral fins, along past his bottom and into his fins (anal fin? pelvic fin?). It's actually quite a defined, diagonal line. The colour seems to be a mottled black pigmentation and it extends around his belly. I've seen him blow a few bubbles at the surface, but no bubble nest building. Is he trying to impress his lady friend? Or could this be a sign of something else? <Likely is reproductive/stress color change...> Again, thank you for your time. I'm glad that there are credible websites like yours for people to turn to with their queries. Jessica <Welcome my friend. BobF>

Peppered Catfish with blisters  5/28/07 Hi There <Hello.> Would love some advice <OK.> I have a Peppered Catfish (had him for approx 9 months) and he has in the past 7 days developed these water type blisters around his dorsal fin, they are see through bubble blister things!!! <"A" peppered catfish? I hope you have more than one in the tank. They are *very* sociable catfish, and the bigger the group, the better. At least keep three or four.> I have tested water all is fine as usual and PH 7. I know that they do not like salt however I do have salt in the water as they are in a community tank and they have been fine for the past 9 months. <Do not add salt. It is bad for them. Repeat after me: freshwater fish do not need salt in the water. Tonic salt is snake oil, sold to unsuspecting aquarists to extract cash from them in return for overpriced uniodized cooking salt (which is all it is). If you know they don't like salt, why are you adding some anyway?> I also have Albinos in there and they are fine along with the clown loaches maybe they are more tolerant than the Peppered? <No.> So to my questions is my catfish getting old and has a bacterial problem? <Probably not.> Will it spread to other fish? <Depends what it is. If Whitespot/Ick, then very likely yes. If simply a viral growth or tumour, then probably not. Need more of a description that "bubble blister things" to identify the problem. What's the size of the blister? Are they on the fin membrane, the spines, or the skin around the base of the fin?> What should I use to treat her? <Until you identify the problem, don't treat with anything. It's entirely possible that the salt is irritating the skin of the fish and causing physical damage, hence the blisters. So the treatment, such as it is, might well be stop adding salt and keep your catfish in a freshwater aquarium, not a brackish water one.> I have been told by a friend that salt just sits at the bottom of the tank and when you gravel vacuum you do not get rid of the salt so maybe it has become to salty and maybe burned him? <If someone was foolish enough to add the salt directly to the aquarium then yes, grains of salt could sit on the bottom of the tank. They don't "burn" the fish in any meaningful way because the fish could easily swim away from any irritant like a salt grain. But if small fish swallow whole grains of salt that would be very bad for them indeed (much as if you swallowed a whole cup of salt). Even in this worst-case scenario, the grains of salt would quickly dissolve, certainly within an hour, probably much less. Salt doesn't come out of solution again under normal aquarium conditions, so grains wouldn't "re-appear" on the substrate, so that part of your friend's story is nonsense.> I did just try to add some other Peppered and they died after a couple of days but they were very small and came from a freshwater tank at the LFS. <Quelle surprise. Please, stop adding salt to the aquarium.> Any info would be appreciated........ <Do please have a read of this article for an overview of the Corydoras group: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/callichthyids.htm .Peppered Corys are lovely catfish, and I've kept and bred them myself. They're essentially very hardy (mine live in a pond over summer) and very rewarding animals if treated properly. But adding salt to the Corydoras aquarium is at best pointless and at worse stressful to the fish.> Many Thanks Faye <Good luck, Neale>
Re: Peppered Catfish with blisters  5/29/07
Thanks for the input it is much appreciated, although I am finding the whole fishkeeping experience rather hilarious in the fact that there is such conflicting information. <Hello Faye. Fishkeeping is an old hobby. The Romans kept pond fish, for example, with some aristocrats spending vast sums of money on particularly fine mullets, while others gave their lampreys golden "ear-rings". Goldfish have been kept by the Chinese for hundreds of years, and the first goldfish arrived in Europe around 1700. The modern hobby started off during the Victorian era, and from about 1900 onwards steadily more and more species were kept in Europe and North America. As a result of this long time axis, masses of different methods of keeping fish have developed. Some, like the use of salt and activated carbon, are very much part of the "old" schools of thought, whereas since the 1980s, the "new" schools of thought have advocated large-scale water changes and optimizing water chemistry to match as close as possible the wild conditions. Both approaches can work, but almost without exception the "new" system works best, especially with the more delicate species. Still, you'll still find salt and carbon in the shops, and older aquarium books may even recommend them. But none of the new books do, and nor do the magazines like TFH.> I have a large aquarium near me and they have heaps of tanks both freshwater and marine. I was advised to chuck in about 5 handfuls of salt into the tank to start off with (210l tank) and then when I do water changes add just a small handful. Then people like yourself advise no salt in the water, then I read on websites that salt is great as it kills pathogens and the web site you referred me to also advises to add salt so you can see my confusion. <Salt *can* be used therapeutically. But this should be a short-term measure. Once the fish are healed, gradually remove the salt by doing water changes every few days and replacing the salty water with regular freshwater.> My Peppered Catfish (3 to start off with) always laid eggs on the glass (only to be eaten) but they were very healthy so I can only imagine that the adding of salt every water change has just become too much and maybe the one that is left has just become a bit hardier to it, but maybe the blisters are a sign that's it's too much or maybe he did eat some. having said that the Albino's are doing good and so are my Clown Loaches that are about 4 inches each. <I agree with your analysis here. How freshwater fish react to salt is difficult to predict. Some fish are more sensitive to it than others. There's very little scientific analysis of this with ornamental fish species, though goldfish have been studied in terms of salt tolerance quite a lot. In short, salt doesn't improve their health, and above a certain level, kills them.> The blisters are like a clear blister you would get on the heel of your foot if the shoes are rubbing you, they are at the base of his dorsal fin actually on the skin. There is no Ick in my tank or if there is anything the salt controls it ph is always 7 as tank is buffered. <Aquarium salt doesn't buffer the water and won't affect pH. It can't; it's sodium chloride, which doesn't buffer the water or change its pH. Marine salt mix contains other minerals that do this, various carbonate and sulphate salts in particular.> I have looked at gas bubble disease but don't really understand that too much. I have taken a photo which you may be able to see the blister is like a bubble that moves with the current and actually looks bigger today the height of the dorsal fin and possibly 5mm radius with smaller ones surrounding it. <Right, the photo is interesting. It does indeed look like gas bubble disease, though I cannot tell from the photo if the blister is filled with [a] fluid or [b] gas. Obviously if [b], then gas bubble disease. But gas bubble disease is quite rare in freshwater fish. It is caused by supersaturation of gases in the water, such as by very vigorously aerating the water. But this doesn't often happen in aquarium with regular filters and airstones. So my guess is that the blister is filled with fluid, in which case it is likely similar to a blister in humans: a mix of tissue fluid, bacteria, and dead white blood cells. Eventually it will go away by itself, but only if the fish's immune system is kept in tip-top shape. Furthermore, it's important that secondary infections such as fungus do not set in when the blister bursts. Keeping the water clean, and adding some anti-fungus/anti-Finrot remedy when the blister bursts will be important.> That's about as much as I can tell you and it is a hard hobby especially when people you think know what they are talking about (i.e. aquarium owners) give you advise to add salt then you end up with things like this. <It's really not that hard. The problem is a lot of poor information is shared, primarily because when things go wrong people just buy new fish instead of reflect on what the precise problem was. Books and magazine articles are the places to start, because they will have editorial review and likely to be fact-checked and written by real experts. Many of the writers here at WWM also write books and magazine articles (Bob Fenner and myself, for example) so you can accord us a bit of trust too. But you also should try and learn from your mistakes: if lots of your fish have died within a year, then obviously something is amiss, and you should try and figure out what's wrong before buying any more.> The other two Peppered catfish died within the past month and a half and had red patches underneath them on their tummies like some kind of haemorrhages and they couldn't swim, but did not lose any other fish and water was fine........ <Almost certainly poor water quality and/or chemistry. The red patches are bacterial infections setting in because the skin became diseases, and once the bacteria reaches the inside of the body itself, it's basically Goodnight Gracie.> From my experience (which isn't that great approx 10 months) I am getting used to the water and when it needs to be changed etc. I do a gravel vac around every 7 - 10 days. When I first started if I had a guppy sitting on bottom gulping then I would test the water and see that Ammonia was high or if my Loaches started to skip then Nitrite would be creeping up. There has been no signs like that for a while now as I am starting to get use to things and in the past if my Nitrates are up then when I gravel vac bubbles come up from the gravel all these tell tales signs have helped me learn <All sounds like you're learning. Your fishes' behaviour really can be a very good alarm bell for water quality problems. Routine helps a lot. Cleaning the gravel really shouldn't be necessary more than once a month unless you have very mess fish (or overfeed them). Simply moving the siphon over the bottom of the tank should suck up muck during water changes. I'd warmly encourage silver sand (silica sand) or volcanic sand (black sand) instead of gravel. It makes a huge difference with catfish and loaches: their behaviour is far more natural, and you watch them dig into the sand spewing out sand through the gills. Sand also tends to prevent much sinking in; instead, the muck collects on the surface where it can be easily siphoned out.> Maybe she will survive who knows. <Probably she'll be fine.> Many Thanks for your help/advice/info it is greatly appreciated and why is there so many grey areas/different opinions with fish keeping? <Partly history, as mentioned. Partly because we're still learning. Lots of aspects of the hobby are quite new, particularly in marines and with oddball freshwater fish, so information simply isn't out there.> Kind Regards Faye <Cheers, Neale>

Cory problem, no useful data   5/25/07 Hello! I have a Cory...sorry I don't know which kind, but a fairly common one. Recently I noticed that just about his entire mouth has disappeared! The barbels and what I call the snout. There's nothing left but a tiny hole and I don't know if he is eating through that. <Have seen this before... sometimes from collateral shipping damage... on occasion from sharp gravel, other objects in a tank... Can be caused by being attacked, or even consequent bacterial infection... from something/s amiss in the way of water quality> He's certainly not as active, but is not showing any other signs of fungus or infection. Gills look fine. Must be losing weight. What is the prognosis? Will his barbels and snout grow back? <Might, depending on how damaged, the root cause/s...> How can I help him because he's so sweet.  I have already set him up in a hospital tank. I put Methylene Blue in his water.   Thanks so much...I really want to save him! Elise <... Need to know what the system consists of, maintenance, water quality, foods/feeding... Even tankmate species... Can't guess w/ what little you've provided here. Bob Fenner>

Cory cat behavior or disease  - 05/01/07 Dear crew, Tank specs:  10 gallon, heated to 79 degrees (with a heater that wont stay attached to the side of the aquarium, driving me crazy and always having the tip touching the gravel*. is this a problem?), <No> filtered with a hang-on filter rated for 5-15 gallons, ammonia 0, nitrite 0, nitrate 5 30 minutes before weekly maintenance which consists of a 20% water change, quite often twice a week, a swish of the filter in aquarium water or a change if needed, hand picking of algae <Shouldn't have much of this...> and an occasional swish of the sponge media when theres too much algae.  Eco-complete substrate, java moss, a planted plant I cant remember the name of and a floating Anacharis that tends to tip more then it floats.  One small lace rock. <I'd pull this... soak in some warm/boiled water... test the water for phosphate... may be a principal contributor to your algae growth...>   Plant light florescent for the lighting, on about 12 hours a day.  Two panda Cory cats, two albino Cory cats, a male Betta and lots of pond snails (that I purposefully introduced*. I like them).  Feeding twice a day with tropical flakes for the Betta, shrimp pellets for the Corys, frozen white worm larvae, frozen daphnia and Brine Shrimp Directs Beef heart Plus flakes for all.  (My Corys LOVE the beef heart flakes.)  Feeding is switched up every day, one thing at a time, so no, Im not feeding everything all at once.  They fast one day a week as well as fasting my plants one day every two weeks or so (which has done wonders for algae control). <Mmm...>   The tanks been set up for a couple of months with fish just being added in the last month or two.  No quarantine as the place we bought the Corys quarantines and the Betta was added first.  Whew!  I hope thats all the information you need. My problem resides with my Corys.  First, I was told they would school together, which they dont.  The pandas live under the heater and the albinos swim around.  I would like to get more of each to complete the school.   How many Corys could I comfortably fit in the 10 gallon? <Well... I'd rather that you had just five or so of one species...> We have two other larger tanks that I could move either school of Corys in if theres not enough room to complete the schools in the 10 gallon.   <Oh! Good... small, odd numbers of this genus are best in most hobbyist settings... One species if the systems are small...> Second problem.  I used to have a fifth Cory cat, albino.  Two weeks ago he became paler then the other albinos, no pink cast to his body.  He would still scrounge around for food when I fed them.  (I feed them at the same time in the same place every time.  Even the Panda cats know when to come out.)  But other then that, he appeared rather listless.  He would even waft in the current and tip a bit. But when I bumped him or another fish bumped him, he would move a little.  However, I happened to be leaving that day for a five day vacation and worried that he would die while I was gone and rot in my tank, causing havoc to everything else, I froze him.  Now one of my other Cory cats, who used to be active and pinkish, is acting the same way.  He acts more active when hes scared into moving, but other then that, he just sits around, blinking, with not much gill movement (though I know theyre labyrinth breathers, <Yes... of a sort... facultative...> so I dont know whether this has much to do with it).  I watched him eat last night, so I know hes still doing that.  This has been going on for 3-4 days now with no further deterioration of his condition.  So now I wonder, is he sick or did I freeze my last Cory cat unnecessarily? <Maybe> There are no other physical signs of illness that I have noticed besides what is described above.   I sincerely hope that I havent just missed the answer in the FAQ section.  I have read through the catfish behavior and disease three times and Googled different terms related.  I hope I havent wasted your time.  Thank you again for your help. Celeste <Thank you for your thoughtful, well-worded questions, comments... I would move the non-Panda species here... and keep it/them in a bit cooler water temp. wise... Do please see WWM, Fishbase.org re the water quality of these species in the wild... Is your water particularly hard, alkaline? Lastly, a cursory note re nitrogenous et al. waste accumulation and these (and most Amazonian) fishes... They do appear ataxic (disoriented) as you note, under such influences... better to have larger volumes, well filtered, maintained to avoid such poisoning. Bob Fenner>
Re: Cory cat behavior or disease   5/2/07
Bob, <Celeste> Thank you for your prompt reply.  I must admit in my Wet Web Media addiction I was rather worried when daily FAQ's weren't updated at all this weekend. <Heeee! Glad you noticed> I'm glad to see you alive and well.  I hope that going from Hawaii to Canada wasn't too much of a shock. <A bit sleepy... well, sleepier... but many nice folks about, good things to do... Fab meals and drinkies>   I can only imagine how much (volunteer) time you spend on this website daily. <A few to quite a few hours... are you able, ready, willing to join us... Yet?> I really appreciate the value you, as well as the other volunteers, bring to this hobby. <Thank you my/our friend> The Albino Cory Cat wasn't doing as well this morning.  He was sideways under a plant and didn't come when I fed them.  It wasn't until a few minutes later when I swished the plant a bit that he righted himself and started swimming around.  After receiving your email, I called my husband and had him move the two Albinos into our Tetra tank.  That tank is a degree or two cooler and softer then the water in my tank, has been set up for over 6 months and is 37 gallons. <Good>   I've never tested the 10 gallon tank hardness, honestly.  I use half filtered tap water that has the chlorine, etc. removed but leaves the minerals in and half RO water.  The tap has a hardness of 11 or 12 while the RO has a hardness of between 0-1.  I estimate that it is about 6 or 7.  I will check tonight. <Also good... often there are other sources (gravel, decor...) that can/do add to hardness...> But I know that the Tetra tank is between 4-5 with a Ph below 7.0.  (My husband is in charge of testing the other tanks so I don't know the exact numbers.  I just know that we've reached our target numbers for that tank.)  Next time we're at the good LFS, we'll pick up more of both types of Corys. <Sounds good> In the 37 gallon, we have 2 ADFs, 10 Neon Tetras, 5 Flame Rios Tetras and 6 Red Eye Tetras.  (Now I'm all paranoid and confused about my capitalization after today's daily FAQs.) <Heeee! No worries... missals w/ only a scattering of errors I pick up, mostly through the software...>   Someone at the LFS (not the good one, the one that advised me to put 2-3 goldfish in the 10 gallon with my Betta.... obviously, I didn't) told me that bottom dwellers don't factor into the inch per gallon rule, that's it's more a psychological thing. <Mmm, not so> I could therefore leave the ADFs (and at the time, 3 Loaches) out of the equation when stocking my tank.  But I have not been able to find anything to substantiate that claim. <There is naught>   I can't imagine that I could have 37 inches in the water and 37 inches on the bottom, especially since Cory Cats are probably messier then, say, the ADFs.  How many Cory's could I have in this tank? <Mmm... depending on species, perhaps 15...> I have to admit I fell in love with the school of Panda Cat's at the LFS with about 50 of them.  There's just something about seeing them swim together that makes them that much cuter. <Yes> Last thing, I promise.  I thought we had done our research on lace rock before we bought them but apparently not after Googling it on WWM this morning.  There's some in all three tanks.  We have algae in all of our tanks, though it's not the slimy type (BGA) but the course, thick stringy kind that comes out fairly easy.  The tetra tank is the worst and that's had the lace rock the longest.  My husband pulled the rock out this morning.  Phosphate testing kits are not easily found here and we may have to order one.  We thought the algae was an over-feeding problem and would straighten out once we separated the live bearers into their own tanks (which we did two months ago).  I am slightly confused about your instructions to place them in warm/boiling water.  Will this remove the phosphates in the rock? <Mmm, only to an extent... removing the more easily soluble source near the surface... in time, the deeper, more concentrated layers become exposed...>   We boiled all the rock before placing them in the tank, but would further boiling help with the phosphates if there are any? <Only temporarily> Or should we just leave them out and find something else to decorate?   <Is one approach... Using more (i.e. purposeful photosynthetic growth), utilizing chemical filtrants, limiting other essential nutrients... are others> Thank you again, Celeste <Welcome my friend. Thank you for writing so well, clearly. Bob Fenner>
Re: Cory cat behavior or disease 5/4/07
Bob, <Celeste> We unfortunately lost the Cory Cat last night.  Water hardness tested at 8 with Ph at 7.4, which is higher on both accounts then I thought.  (Ah, the importance of frequent testing.)  According to fishbase.org, that's within acceptable range, but I would like to see it lower then that. <Mmm, yes> I did a 20% water change last night using only RO, and will continue to do so until dH is 6 and Ph below 7.0.   <Good> (The Tetra tank where I moved the Albinos is dH - 5, Ph - 6.4.)  We plan on buying 10 more Albino Corys and 3 more Panda Corys this weekend.  (Well, probably just 4 Albinos this weekend and 6 next weekend....keeping them odd and letting the bacteria catch up.) Well, thank you for asking about joining the crew!  I do have the time and I am very willing, however, I've only technically been part of the hobby for 6 months.  (Though I grew up with a freshwater tank in my house, I only did water changes and the like when it was my chore.)  As a self-proclaimed researchaholic, I know quite a bit about the things I've dealt with (plants, DIY CO2, setup, cycling, Ick, Guppies, Tetras, Loaches, Bettas and Cory Cats, those kind of things), but only general things about other aspects of freshwater and next to nothing about marine.  You guys have done enough for me, if I can return the favor in anyway, I would happily do so. Celeste <Your writing displays a keen intellect, capacity for communication, deep involvement and awareness in life. I look forward to when you will feel more comfortable responding to folks here... Even "just" with freshwater queries. Bob Fenner>

Dying Cory?   4/15/07 Hi.. <Hello> I have two Corys, Pleco, clown loach, three Danios in a 27 gal. tank. all water levels are normal, except that the water does test a bit hard. <... need the actual test values... can't read minds to discern what you mean by "normal"> two days ago I noticed that one of the Corys started leaning against rocks and the tank to hold itself up in a resting position. over the last two days he has become completely motionless and is not eating. he seems to breathe heavily from time to time and at others I wonder if he's kicked the bucket. There is no visible infection on him, he looks fine from the outside, although I think today he got a bit bloated. I have no idea what might have caused his condition or what to do.  any advice is greatly appreciated. best, Nathalia. <Perhaps high nitrate, other metabolite/s... water changes... Do please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/armcatdisfaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>
Re: dying Cory?
  4/15/07 Nitrates are at 40, <Yikes!!! Way too high... by more than twice!> nitrites approaching .5, <Toxic... must be zero, zip, zilch> ph 7.2, alkaline 120 I did a water change yesterday, do so about every two weeks, have live plants, carbon filter, don't know what else to do to bring the nitrate/nitrite level down. <Posted...> Cory passed away overnight. I had him for close to two years, not sure what happened. He had no visible signs of infection. <... Environment...> thanks for the link and writing back. <Please read, learn to/use WWM... the indices, search tool: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwsubwebindex.htm the link to FW Maint., Water Quality... Nitrates... Bob Fenner>

Cory With Popeye  - 03/20/07   Please help me, My favorite fish is my Corydoras catfish. He recently came down with Popeye. I am not sure what type of treatment I can use for him. I've been reading online, but most of the advice is for other fish and not Cory's. I don't know their tolerance to meds. He's 7 years old. I did about a 30% water change last night. He's in a 150 gallon freshwater planted aquarium. The water is in good condition and I am not sure if he poked his eye, or what exactly happened. What would you suggest I do? I need help ASAP. I'm 25 and love fish. I know some people must think I'm nuts, but this little guy is my buddy and he needs to live. Please, can you give me some advice? Thank you. Gina <Place the sick fish in a clean hospital tank and treat with Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace.-Chuck.>
Re: Cory Cat With Popeye II   3/21/07
Okay, Where do I get that? < Local fish store or online.> Is there a certain brand? < Brand type is unimportant.> My QT tank isn't cycled. Should I take water from the main tank and place him in it with that? Please, suggestions. Thank you. < Take 50% of the water from the main tank and don't worry about the hospital tank being cycled.  All you need is a heater and an airstone. Place the fish in the hospital tank with 50% new treated water. Place the fish in the tank with the medication. Do a 50% water change every day and replace with new treated water. The medications would probably kill any biological filtration and that is why an airstone is needed. After three treatments you should start to see some results.-Chuck>
Re: Help help help. Corydoras with Popeye....this fish is 7 years old. Medication Not Recommended
  3/22/07 Hi Chuck. This is concerning my Cory catfish. He has Popeye. You recommended this treatment Metronidazole and Nitrofuranace. I was not able to find this at my LFS. I asked for a brand name because that is all they carry. I have PetSmart and Petco here. They do not, at least mine, do not carry that. I looked. So, I opted out and bought Maracyn. Do you think that this will help? I hope so. I love my little Cory. Let me know. Thank you. Gina <Your fish has a real problem. The medications I recommend are what work best for me. I don't think the medication you have purchased will be as effective. I believe I said that you may need to look online for these medications. Drsfostersmith.com has both of these in stock and can ship out overnight if needed. Typically these large chain stores don't carry a lot of medications.-Chuck.>

Aquarium problems, FW, env.    1/11/07 I have a ten gallon tank running for the past three months and have lost eight guppies in the course of a month. <From?> My ammonia and nitrate levels are at 0 and my ph is 7.0 I change my water and vacuum once a week. Since the loss of my fish I have started changing the water and vacuuming the gravel twice a week. <I'd reduce this to just once per week... What is it you're attempting to accomplish by more frequent changing?> My Cory catfish is not doing well now. I have one guppy left and him in my 10 gallon. The catfish is laying on his side and breathing heavy. He has no spots on his body and was eating yesterday. Don't know what I am doing wrong with this tank. Please help. <... Please read here: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwmaint.htm and the linked files above... I suspect you have fallen into the "cleanliness is sterility" mind-frame... Not valid. Bob Fenner> Lynda Williams

Re: FW high pH, Corydoras beh... need to find, match in the FW Dailies   1/12/06 Thanks for the speedy reply, but have another question. <... please include prev. corr....> You said the PH of 8.0 was a bit high, but its constant and never shifts.  Should I alter it a bit lower with chemicals? <Possibly... I would just mix in some water (reverse osmosis likely) that has less/no alkaline component to dilute, lower the pH>   Just mix in chemicals in the storage water of 7.0 PH and pour in to the tank? <No... need to allow such pre-made water to set for a few days>   Also you think the high PH contributes to the Corys being pale? <Yes, could very likely do so> Thanks for your time, patience <Do take a read: http://wetwebmedia.com/FWSubWebIndex/fwph,alk.htm and the linked files above where you lead yourself. Bob Fenner>

Cory constantly moves, and has missing chunk   11/17/06 Dear Expert,  I am so thankful to be able to have someone to ask about my poor fish.  I have a 12 gal. tank with a couple of Corydoras agassizii, a male Betta, and 4 male guppies.  The temp is kept at 78-80 F, water parameters are normal, pH 6.8 to 7.0, negligible ammonia, nitrates, nitrites, etc. and I do a 3 gal. water change with aged water every week.   <So far, so good> All fish appear healthy and are eating well except one Cory.  I first noticed 3 days ago that he was in constant motion - not swimming, but staying in place and just shimmying. <Strange> At first, I thought he was looking for food, as the motion was similar, but he never stops.  His fellow Cory just sits on the bottom, then will look for food, and stop again.  I also noticed a pale spot at the front of the dorsal fin, almost as if bleach had been dropped on the Cory's back.  Now, there is a chunk if flesh missing from the Cory's back.    <Mmm, there is nothing in the tank that would "bite" a piece out... Is there a piece of gear... a pump or such that might do this?>   I can't find any similar reference to the movement as it's not jerky, frantic, or flashing.  I don't want to use salt, <I would not> as I've read that Corys are sensitive to salt.  Do you have any idea as to what his problem might be, and what I can use to heal him?      Thank you for your advice. <This could be some sort of "time bomb", nervous/genetic disorder in the one fish... I am torn between urging you not to "treat" with anything for fear of disrupting biological filtration, hurting water quality... and suggesting something innocuous... Bob Fenner> Re: Cory constantly moves, and has missing chunk  11/17/06 Thank you, Bob, for the response. I couldn't find anything mechanical, and the missing chunk kept getting bigger. The Cory died, so fortunately, I don't have to treat and mess up the stability of my tank. I'll watch to see if other fish are effected, but so far, the rest are doing great. I agree with you that the problem is more than likely specific just to the one Cory. Thank you again for taking the time to answer my question. <Thank you for this update. Life to you my friend. Bob Fenner>

Peppered catfish - more information needed   11/15/06 Hi, <Hello> I have a peppered catfish and he is in trouble. He is lying on the bottom of the tank, sometimes he goes for a frenzied swim but can't go far then floats to the bottom of the tank and he is breathing rapidly. The other fish are fine; should I quarantine him? and can I more importantly save him? He is so cute I don't want to lose him. If you can help I would greatly appreciate it. <A little bit more information about the tank (size, how long its been running, other inhabitants, water change schedule, etc.) and the water conditions (levels of ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH reading, temp., etc.) are needed in order to give a proper diagnosis.  In the meantime, yes, I would definitely quarantine this fish and keep a very close eye on him.  With regards to the rapid breathing, I suspect toxins in the water - do test for ammonia, nitrite, nitrates, etc. and perform a water change if needed. Tanya. <Best regards, Jorie>

Cory Cats With Problems 11/01/06 Hello, I have two problems, but I think they're related.  I posted about this in the freshwater aquarium thread and the 911 thread when a second, more serious problem occurred.  No one has been able to figure out what this is, so I thought I'd ask you as well.  I'll give you as much information as possible.  I have 3 tanks: 10 gal: (cycled) 4 three-line Corydoras 1 sunset platy 1 fancy guppy 5 gal: (cycled) 1 male Betta 5 gal QT tank: (not cycled) 1 yellow guppy 5 molly fry It all began with the QT tank.  I had originally bought a female black molly and a male yellow guppy.  After a week in the QT tank, the molly suddenly gave birth (I didn't know she was pregnant, but I've had platy and guppy fry before) to 6 fry.  The following morning, I found the molly dead (Oct 8).   While removing her, I noticed that her underside, on her belly, was white.   It did not look cottony, like fungus.  It was very hard to tell what it was. By Oct 13, I noticed that the fry had white on their bellies also.  Since they're fry and so small, it was very hard to identify.  Upon closer examination, it seemed gray, like their scales had come off or lost color.   It didn't look like something "on" the fish.  It was also shiny.  It was only on the molly fry.  The yellow guppy showed no symptoms.  On Oct 13, I did something monumentally stupid and that was change the filter.  I had originally taken the filter from my Betta tank (he needed a new one) and used it in the QT tank to cycle it.  After putting in the new filter in the QT tank, I realized that I had just killed my cycle, since there hadn't been enough time for bacteria to grow in the tank.  I began to do frequent water changes on the QT tank, and I also treated the tank with 3 tbsp of non-iodized salt in order to help with their problem.  The fry were eating well, and swimming around, along with the guppy. On Oct 16, one of the fry died.  During this time, the yellow guppy began to have red gills, and was hanging at the surface of the tank, and swimming around like crazy.  I wasn't sure if he had an illness or was just reacting to the ammonia (which I kept down to .5 or less as well as I could with water changes).  Since I wasn't sure, I decided to wait to see what happened while continuing to keep the same level of salt and frequent water changes. On Oct 24 I noticed my Betta had fin rot.  I added 2 tsp of salt to his tank and did frequent water changes to keep his water as pristine as possible.  I had been doing weekly 40% water changes on his tank, and it was fully cycled, so I'm not sure how he developed fin rot.  I had used the same equipment from the QT tank to do his water changes on Oct 10 and Oct 19.   I'm not sure if I infected him with the equipment, or if the fin rot developed on its own. Using the same equipment again, I did my regular water changes on my 10 gal on Oct 10, Oct 19, and Oct 29.  Between Oct 29 and Oct 31, I noticed that one of my Corys was hiding out (none of my Corys hide, so this was unusual).  Also, their gills seemed to be red.  Now my Corys had originally had red gills (when I added them a few months ago, I didn't have a QT tank and learned my lesson) and pinkish faces, so I did frequent water changes in an effort to help them battle whatever it was (I thought it may be septicemia).  The pinkishness went away, and so did the redness in their gills. On Oct 31, last night, one of my Corys (I'm assuming it's the one who had been hiding before, but I can't tell my Corys apart) began to be unable to swim.  He would lie on the bottom, gasping, and then try to swim.  He'd tilt to one side and end up swimming in a circle.  I immediately tested the water, and my readings were 0 ppm ammonia, 0 ppm nitrites, 5 ppm nitrates.   Nothing had been changed to the tank in months, with the exception of using the QT equipment (buckets, cup, gravel vacuum) to do their regular water change.  The Cory would occasionally get a burst of energy and begin swimming around frantically, careening into the decoration, the gravel, or the fake plants.  As he swam, he'd spin like a spiral football. It was really hard to see my Cory like this, and I assumed I infected my 10gal with whatever is in my QT tank.  The red gills and gasping led me to think it was a bacterial infection, so I treated the tank last night with Maracyn.  Since my Qt tank is occupied, I had no where to put the sick Cory so was forced to treat him with the others.  I also treated the QT tank, since 3-4 weeks of salt has not been helping them at all.  I fully expected to wake up this morning to him being dead.  Instead, he's still alive, still unable to swim properly, and is lying in my tank gasping for air.  I keep checking on him to make sure he is still alive.  Two of my other Corys are now hiding out, but I don't know if it's in response to the Maracyn or if they're also beginning to catch whatever the sick Cory has. I'm worried that I might end up losing all of my Corys.  Do you have any idea what this is?  Will my spinning Cory recover, or should I put him down? < The Cory probably gas an internal infection. Place him in the QT tank and treat with Metronidazole and Nitrofurazone or Clout.> I don't want to see him suffer, but I don't want to prematurely end his life if he can get over this.  If I do need to put him down, what is the best method? < Place the fish in a glass of aquarium water and add a couple Alka -Seltzer tablets. The CO2 will remove the oxygen from the water and the fish will go to sleep and die.> I don't think I'd be able to sever his spine, so the least traumatic method for both of us would be best.  I'm going to sterilize the equipment by using boiling water (is this the correct method)? < Probably not needed. The bloat is caused by stress. Check the aquarium for uneaten /rotting food.> Should I continue to treat with Maracyn, and how do I do water changes while medicating if it kills my cycle (which I'm assuming it will)? < If you must treat in the main tank then do a 50% water change, vacuum the gravel and clean the filter. After treatment then add Bio-Spira from Marineland to get the bacteria re-established.> I hope this was clear enough for you.  I also hope I haven't made the situation worse by medicating with Maracyn, but I've read conflicting information on Corys and salt and didn't want to risk it by using that instead.  Any help would be greatly appreciated!-Michelle < Stop using salt with the Cory cats. The really don't like it.-Chuck>

911 sick Cory with fungus!!!  10/23/06 <Hi, Pufferpunk here> I have an established (1 year and 3 mo.s old) 10 gallon tank with two neon tetras and three albino Corys, which I have had for about a year.  I use the smallest size natural gravel that one can purchase from the store. I use no aeration but that from the filter, an Aquaclear 20 gallon. I change my activated carbon every other week, and do 20% water changes every week. Ammonia 0, nitrites 0 and nitrates usually 0 (see explanation below). I have had some difficulty establishing a neutral or slightly acidic pH due to the fact that about nine months ago I bought what I found out later is a hornwort plant. pH kept rising and couldn't figure out why--finally found out that hornwort raises pH and despite all my attempts to buffer the pH, finally had to get rid of hornwort. I tried using Publix drinking water (pH 6.5), then Publix purified water (pH 7.5) but have returned to my original formula, which is to do 15 - 20% water changes per week with distilled water, then add some Flourish to add back some of the minerals, and also, a small amount of Flourish Excel for CO2 for the plants. Here are my questions. First, one of the Corys has been stripped bare almost of all his fins and tails in the past six months, and I am wondering if it is the pH instability I have had. He still has his barbels and seems to have no rot at all. The other possibility is that I fed them two much live bloodworm (they love it so much) and I had a nitrate spike which I didn't find out about for a week, which may have eaten away his fins and tails. I now have Nitrizyme granules in the filter to prevent a future spike. <I wouldn't waste $$$ on a quick fix nitrate remover.  The best way to remove nitrates is to do larger water changes, while cleaning gravel (You'll have to work around the plants).  I do 50-75% weekly water changes on my FW tanks (depending on how they are stocked).  The worst thing you can do to your fish is to cause the pH to swing up & down.  Regular weekly water changes with tap water should keep the pH steady.> The other URGENT question is about a Cory I have had that started sprouting what looked like a white cotton ball from the side of his gills about a week ago. I started treating with Maroxy and Maracide II and quarantined him in a gallon and a half tank with an aeration stone. After four days the puff had turned grey/black but nothing else, so on the advice of a second pet store I added three quarters of a teaspoon of salt. Fish started being in obvious distress, but pieces of the fungus did start to fall off but not completely. The tank started clouding up which bloom I know is the beginning of the bacterial cycle, so I began doing 50% water changes, with water from the original tank and adding a little more Maroxy, etc., to compensate. Today I started a new treatment cycle and when I put the Maroxy, Maracide II and salt in the quarantine tank the little fellow started to fall over on his side. So, in a panic, I put him in the community tank, albeit the risk of a mass fishicide.  He hasn't eaten in five days and is somewhat thin and weak. I DID start putting  two teaspoons of salt in the big tank during water changes -  I read on your site that for Corys the reduced ratio of salt is better than the usually 1 tbs per 5 gallons - so hope that will protect the other fish, but need to start treating him again.  Should I start the Maroxy and Maracide II again in the quarantine tank? They really didn't seem to help that much. Another option suggested from the lady at the first pet store - she had 20 freshwater tanks at one time in her home, so her advice is better than the usual crap you get from pet stores - is to give the Cory a saline bath. She calls it her "when all else fails" method and has used is successfully with her fish.  You raise the salinity to ocean conditions, watch the fish carefully, and the very moment it flops over, return it to normal conditions. Considering that the salt did seem to break off chunks of the fungus, I am thinking this may work.  But what if it doesn't? <An uncycled QT must have at least 50% daily water changes on it, to prevent the fish from poisoning itself with it's own waste.  You can treat the entire main tank with Melafix & Pimafix, without harming the other inhabitants or the biological filtration.  If the fish is already weak/stressed, I would not put it in a SW bath.> And what's the most compassionate way to end his life if nothing works? I am not crazy about the putting them in the freezer method. <I would overdose with clove oil (found in the toothpaste/ache isle of a drug store) & then freeze.  About 5 drops to a cup.> Your advice would be much appreciated - he doesn't have much time left from the looks of him and his suffering is hard to watch. I am also wondering whether to replace the gravel with sand to prevent future injuries, which is what I read causes the source of the infection in the first place. But the other two Corys do fine with the gravel. <I have used small-sized gravel with my Corys for many years.  I hope he makes in.  ~PP> Thank you in advance, Lisa

Corydoras standing upright on bottom   9/20/06 Hi there, I've been reading your board for a long time now, <Bet you I've been t/here longer> and have learned so much, <Me too> and I now have reason to contact you for the first time. <Good> I recently rescued 2 Corys from someone on Craigslist.org.   (I believe the are Corydoras leucomelas) Had them for 2weeks so far. They were sold to the guy I got them from as Corydoras schwartzi, which they are not (these have a lot of black on the top fin) I plan on getting more of them, once these 2 are healthy and get out of QT. I believe that they lived in some very bad conditions before I got them, as they have no barbels. <Yikes... very bad> I'm feeding them live blackworms, and shrimp pellets. One of the Corys is eating well and regrowing the barbels already, but the other one isn't eating as much, and is acting a bit strange. It sometimes stands upright on the bottom of the tank. It will lay on the bottom, then it's head will slowly start to rise, until it's almost vertical. Sometimes it's head stays on the bottom, and sometimes rests at 45 deg. <Very bad> This Cory can swim fine, up and down, swims right side up, but it's not eating as much as the other. These 2 Corys swim together all the time. <This genus are very social animals> I haven't seen the vertical one poop yet, while I have seen the other one doing his business at least 2 times ( but the healthy one is a little piggy) I am thinking constipation or a swim bladder issue? It is not swollen, or bloated in any way. <Mmm, likely just so far beaten down, is having a hard time recovering its health> I just need some advice on what to do now, medicate, fasting...what? <I might try adjusting your water quality (pH, hardness, temp.) more to their suiting... but otherwise would just keep doing what you're doing> Thanks so much, as I want my lil rescued guys to get healthy again if they can. Jay Vance <I wish you life. Bob Fenner>
Re: Corydoras standing upright on bottom   9/21/06
Hey Bob, Thanks so much for your speedy reply. It is so neat to see your responses (< >) in the body of my message, like all the ones I've read for so long on the wet web. <Ahh!> As for their water parameters, and ph and the like, I have them in an 5 gallon uncycled (weekly or less water change)   QT, with a ph of 6.8 and temp around 78. <Better to be in an established cycled system. These cats likely have nothing that is "catching"> I have pretty soft water, KH of 1-2, and since I read that these Corydoras leucomelas live in blackwater (from planet catfish's species sheet) I assume that this would be to their liking? <Yes> As for being "beaten down" do you mean that the vertical and 45 deg positioning is from exhaustion/ ill health and possible lack of control of it's swim bladder, but not necessarily an infection or anything else? <Oh! Was referring to the effects of their previous care> That would make me feel better, as I wouldn't want to medicate without good reason. This is what happens when one rescues unhealthy fish, I guess. Time and good water and good food is all I can do, the rest is up to the fish. <Yes, we are in agreement> One last thing, How long should I keep them in QT, under these circumstances, as they have a big 29 gallon planted tank waiting for them, with only 4 Otos in it. They've been in QT for 2.5 weeks so far. Thanks so much again for all your good work. Jay <I would move these Corys to the main tank now. Bob Fenner>
Re: Corydoras standing upright on bottom  9/23/06
Hey Bob, So sorry I'm having to write you again, as I know you're very busy. I believe I've found a big problem that I overlooked before. This Cory has no mouth hole. or a tiny, tiny hole) It sounds strange, but it appears to have been slowly sealed with scar tissue from the barbel burning off issue, from the previous owners tank. The other Cory does not have this problem, and has a normal mouth. This explains why this fish has been not able to suck in any blackworms during feeding, just nosing the ground, without sucking anything up. I can see it's jaw moving, but there is no opening in the mouth skin. In turn, it's breathing is a bit labored, and I see it trying to do a yawn, to open/stretch it's mouth skin. I don't want to do this, but I feel as I'm going to have to do something for this fish. I am very good with my hands, I was thinking of using some very small very sharp sterile scissors, and opening the mouth a bit to allow it to circulate water over the gills and to eat. Do you have any suggestions to me as to minimize stress on the fish, and stopping any bleeding/infection/ other problem related to this surgery? Thanks so much. Jay <I would hold off on trying this surgery... better to hope for some sort of self-repair in my estimation. Bob Fenner>
Re: Corydoras standing upright on bottom   11/4/06
Hey Bob, Here's a quick update. Since moving the QT'd Corys into my 29 gallon planted tank (0 ammonia 0 nitrite 0 nitrate due to pressurized co2 and lots of plants), they are both acting normally, and their barbels continue to regrow. <A good sign> I still can't see the opening on the tiny mouthed Cory, but it has had a full regrowth of it's barbels. All of the scary behaviors have stopped, and they are eating like pigs. <A very good sign> I just wanted to thank you for your help. Even when things look very bad, I guess clean water and good food can go a long way to let these little guys heal themselves.... Thanks again! Jay <Thank you for this update. Bob Fenner>

Cory stuck in net - 8/10/2006 Bob, <<Hey Steve, this is Lisa.>> I had to remove all my fish from my tank a week ago to remove the under gravel filter and filter out the sludge trapped beneath it.  During the process, one of my Corys fins got stuck in the net because of that little spike that he shot out. <<Best to remove in a scoop of some kind.>> I gave him half an hour to free himself and he could not do so.  I was also unable to free him.  As a result, I cut the net away, leaving a very small piece still attached to his fin (it is one of the front side fins, I do not know the correct anatomical term for it).  The piece of net is maybe 1/8" by 1/8".  He is eating and swimming around like he is fine and there are no signs of infection or fungus, but the net is still there.  Is this an immanent health danger? <<Imminent, no. He will likely shed it in time.  If this should happen gain, gently pull him in the opposite way of the caught net.>> It looks like the net might be twisted in there.  What is going to happen? <<Watch him, and if it becomes an issue, you may need to remove with tweezers. Right now, just watch and see.  Lisa.>> Worried, Steve

Mysterious Corydoras deaths...one by one   7/12/06 Hey Crew. <<Hello, Justin. Tom>> I've had a series of mysterious deaths in my planted 20 gallon tank. I awoke this morning to find another fish very near death (it had seemed to be ill for a couple of days) so now I'm looking for advice. Here's all the data on my tank: 20 gallon with live plants, filtration is 150 gph, HOB filter. I use an airstone as well. Temperature is usually 23-24c, though with recent hot weather, it's gone as high as 26c. Livestock is as follows: three bronze Corydoras, two three-line Corydoras (one of which is near death), and two dwarf Otos. The tank is cycled, ammonia and nitrite are 0, and always have been. Nitrate is consistently around the 20 mark. pH is higher than I'd like it to be; but stable at around 8.0. I've decided to leave that as it is rather than monkey with it. I've tried that before with no success. I do a weekly water change of 5 gallons, using dechlorinated water. <<With the exception of the unfortunate demise of your pets, I see nothing wrong here, Justin. As you suggest, your pH is, frankly, quite a bit higher than Corys would prefer but I commend you for not playing around with it. Better to leave it "stable".>> The trouble started about six weeks ago...in the span of approx. 2 weeks, I lost three panda Corys and a three-line Cory. Two of these fish displayed no specific symptoms before they passed, they just became listless for a couple of days, eventually became unable to right themselves when swimming, and died. My current sick three-line is showing basically the same symptoms, though it's gills have been quite pink while it's been sick. One panda Cory died from what appeared to be dropsy, another came down with what appeared to be a fairly minor case of fin rot, and was dead 24 hrs later. At the time, the fish that died were all fairly new (all were quarantined before adding to the main tank) and while they did not appear to be sick when I purchased them, they weren't exactly top quality specimens either. I dismissed this as a run of bad luck, and bad stock. Having no more trouble for a month confirmed this for me. But finding another sick fish, one that I've had for nearly a year, is the final straw...but I can't imagine what's going wrong in this tank. <<Having had no personal success with Panda Corys, I can appreciate your frustration but haven't got much to offer as far as an explanation goes. I knew they were among the least, if not the least, robust of the species when I tried my hand with them and did everything I could think of with no luck whatsoever. To this day, I don't have a clue. On the flip side, I've got Leopard and Emerald Green Corys - which are really Brochis - that are doing famously. Admittedly, my pH is considerably lower (7.0) and this makes me suspicious of this parameter in your case.>> I feed these fish a varied diet of Hikari sinking tablets, algae wafers, peas, and several meaty foods, both frozen and dried. There's also a colony of pond snails in this tank, which I occasionally crush by hand and leave for the Corys to gobble up. So what could possibly be the problem here? Is it the recent temperature increase? <<I'm not too keen on the idea of the snails for these fish but I've no knowledge of them being either good or bad as a food source for Corys. The temperature increase seems to be an unlikely candidate as the problem to me. An increase due to weather conditions is going to be relatively slow and not problematic. I'd be more suspicious of a sudden drop in temperature.>> The high pH finally taking a toll? <<Of the conditions that you've thoughtfully/carefully described, this is the one that I'd be most inclined to suspect, especially in the case of the Pandas.>> Are the snails bad for them? Am I cursed? <<Well, I don't believe in "curses" so I'd write that one off. :) Myself? I'd discontinue the snail regimen. They won't miss them and it will eliminate a possibility.>> I have a flotilla of aquarium meds I'd use in a heartbeat if there appeared to be a specific disease afoot. What do you suggest? <<Justin, there doesn't seem to be anything "consistent" in the specifics surrounding the deaths of your pets other than the fact that they're dying. One showed signs of "Dropsy". Another, fin rot (possibly) while two others simply grew listless and died. Since we're dealing with something that appears to be "obscure", I'm going to suggest something equally obscure. If you've got a heater in your tank, you may want to test for a stray electrical current in the water. Uncommon but definitely not unheard of. If nothing else, it might get rid of another possible cause for the problems you're experiencing.>> Thanks in advance for your help. JM <<I'm afraid my usual two-cents-worth may only be worth about half of that in your case, Justin, but, other than the pH issue, you don't describe anything that doesn't sound spot-on to me. Tom>>

Sick Corydoras habrosus... no useful info.   6/3/06 One of my Corydoras habrosus is sick. She is extremely pale and can barely shuffle along the substrate, dragging her belly. She is interested in food but can't get in position to eat with her tail up and head down, so she can't eat. Her barbels point inward instead of outward. She is winking and looking up and down more than usual. One time she actually got up to the surface for a gulp of air, but to do it she had to zoom around and around in rapid circles spiraling upward, and her body was canted over at a slight angle to one side while she did it. Got any ideas what this is and how to treat it? Should I isolate her? All the others look and act absolutely fine. <... what re the set-up here? It's history of operation? Water quality? Foods/feeding... Bob Fenner>

Salt tolerance of Cory Cats   5/28/06 Hello Crew! <<Hi, Jasmine. Tom here.>> I understand that the salt tolerance of catfish in general is very poor. <<It's true that Catfish don't have a tolerance for salt at levels that other fish can tolerate quite well.>> I have some Otos, Bronze Corys and Panda Corys. <<I love these guys, Jasmine. The Pandas tend to be a little less "robust" than other Corydoras varieties but they're sure cute. :)>> For future reference when the situation eventuates, how much aquarium salt would you recommend for these fish for a) prevention of nitrite poisoning and b) disease treatment. <<Regarding (a), don't let this situation "eventuate". In a cycled tank, with proper maintenance, it simply shouldn't occur. As to (b), this isn't, unfortunately, an option because of the dosages necessary to be effective. The "cure" would be as bad as the disease, in a manner of speaking. Even with all of the benefits to be derived from the addition of aquarium salt, in your case, I'm reluctant to advise this. Neither of the instances you cite would lead me to recommend its use given that there are alternatives should the occasion arise. I hope it never does, though. ;)>> Thanks for your help! Jasmine <<Happy to, Jasmine. Tom>>

Cory Color, Illness - 05/07/2006 Hello, <<Hello, Judy. Tom here.>> A question that I haven't seen posed...my Schwartzi Cory has a white area above the barbels...only white, not inflamed, but it doesn't seem to be going away...or getting worse. <<Might be genetic, Judy.>> The LFS had me dose a little with Methylene blue, but other than that have left it alone. <<Not a "bad" call on the part of the LFS but, as you're aware, Methylene Blue can/will play havoc with your beneficial bacteria and plants. Generally, it's best not to treat until something specific has been identified.>> His activity is fine-appetite good, also. He's in a 20-gal with testing coming out at 7.0-0-0-5.0 Any ideas or feedback would be greatly appreciated. <<There's certainly no problem with your readings and given that his appetite/behavior is good, I don't see reason for concern here. In my experience with Corys, coloration changes concurrent with a "problem" affect the entire body of the fish. Typically, the fish becomes more "pale" with diminished coloration overall. They also become almost completely inactive and stop feeding, which doesn't seem to be indicated in your case.>> (I'm wondering if it has anything to do with vacuuming with the water changes....am I not doing a good job?. the gravel is natural and not large.) <<As long as you vacuum deeply - all the way to the bottom - when cleaning your gravel, you're doing a good job. Also, a substrate that would be inappropriate for foragers like Corys would be expected to affect the barbels, not necessarily the coloration of the snout.>> Thanks a Lot, Judy <<You're welcome, Judy. Tom>>

Cory catfish tail & fin disappearing... tiny system, no info. on upkeep or water quality    4/14/06 My son has a 3 gallon Eclipse tank that's approx. 2 yrs old. Originally he had 3 fish, one of which was a Cory catfish. Not sure what the others are. All was well for over a year, then the Cory's fin and tail started disappearing. <... Likely environmental... the tank has gone "acidic" with being small, lack of regular maintenance> Spoke to the fish store & they suggested treating the tank with a green medicine. <No... likely Malachite... too toxic and inappropriate...> Did this 2 different times with no improvement to the Cory, and he died after a month or so. <Poisoned> Got another Cory, <...> and this one started losing his fin & tail almost immediately. Treated the tank again with no success, and started wondering if one of the other fish was eating him. (Never saw any aggression.) Got a tank separator (mesh) and have kept him separate for 2 weeks now. Fin & tail don't seem any worse, but no better either. Fish store suggested feeding him a pellet 2x/week. Doesn't seem to like it, and after a few days it gets fuzzy and floats to the top. Just did a water change and the pellet remains stank horribly. Help!! What's wrong with his fin & tail, and what should I feed him? Thanks! <... What re your water quality? Do you change out water on a regular basis? Perhaps a video fish tank would be better, instead? Bob Fenner>
Re: Cory catfish tail & fin disappearing  - 04/14/2006
I do a water change weekly, replacing half the water in the tank, as suggested by my pet store (NOT Wal-Mart). <Good> NO, I'm not a fish expert, which is why I'm asking for help. Could do without smart-aleck comments like suggesting a video fish tank! <Mmm, not for you, but your child. Something is still off, and easily so in such a small volume, with your water quality here most likely. BobF>

Injured catfish? Just misplaced, Call. sys.   3/4/06 I have three emerald catfish, two adult mollies, and ten 3-wk-old baby mollies. <The mollies and cats like different water qualities... soft, acidic, warm vs. hard, alkaline, cooler...> A few days ago I noticed that one of my catfish seemed to have injured the side of its face somehow, however now I am concerned it might not be an injury.  What used to be a scratch on its face has now turned into a pretty large hole, and now it looks like there is a new surface scratch on the top of its head.  I have attached two pictures to give you a better idea (in the second picture, the affected catfish is the one on the right). <Can't make out... much> It is behaving completely normally, and the fish aren't shunning it (as they have done in the past to dying fish in the tank), but although sometimes the hole seems to be improving, overall it is getting worse.  Also, today the catfish has changed color to a more pinkish/purple rather than green/gold. This isn't just confined to the face or to the fins, but is an overall color change.  Also, I haven't seen the babies or any other fish bothering the catfish, although the new scratch looks like something could be bothering it. <Likely not the mollies> I don't have a fully functional quarantine tank.  Just a smaller tank without a filter or heater.  Do you have any advice on what actions I could take to help my fish heal?  Thank you. <Mmm, if you have another tank, place these catfish in it, and change the water chemistry (slowly) to their liking... this will likely "do it". See WWM, fishbase.org re the species habitats. Bob Fenner>

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